Nikon 1 V3 Bee Photography

Regardless of the camera system that each of us may own, it is always fun and insightful to do some experimentation with one’s gear. Since buying my Nikon 1 V3s I’ve been using them almost exclusively to capture images of birds. As a test I did some Nikon 1 V3 bee photography, using some extension tubes and a selection of 5 different lenses.

To give readers a good idea on the relative magnification between various combinations of lenses and extension tubes all of the photographs in this article are displayed as 100% captures without any cropping.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 77mm, efov 207.9mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

I started out using a 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 zoom lens along with a 21mm extension tube. I’ve always enjoyed using this particular lens as it gives me a nice balance between size/weight, and a nice range of focal length adjustments when doing close-up photography.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 86mm, efov 232.2mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

The bees in my backyard were quite active so I had plenty of subjects from which to choose. The 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 did its usual, good job with this type of subject matter.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 77mm, efov 207.9mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

After shooting for a while, I decided to change lenses and swapped out the 30-110mm for the 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 non-PD zoom. I kept the 21mm extension tube installed. The lens proved to be a competent performer for this application, although not quite as sharp as the 30-110mm.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

Since the minimum focusing distance of the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 is quite a bit shorter than the 30-110mm, I ended up shooting with the lens fully extended to 100mm.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

This necessitated a slight change in my technique as I needed to move my camera towards my subject, then fire without adjusting focal length. When using the 30-110mm I move my camera in, adjust focal length to acquire initial focus, then use single AF to grab final focus.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

After shooting with the 10-100mm non-PD for a while I decided to change lenses once again. This time I went with the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom, keeping the 21mm extension tube in place.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, efov 189mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

As could be expected the quality of the optics in the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm was apparent in the images.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 124mm, efov 334.8mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

While it was more difficult to get in really close to subject bees given the 70mm minimum focal length, the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm is a very capable performer for this type of photography.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, efov 189mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-800, 21mm extension tube

The 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 provides the most overall shooting latitude in terms of subject distance from the camera. This lens would be the best choice when shooting in flower beds that are deeper and when subjects are a bit more distant.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

My test then switched over to the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 prime. I recently used this lens for some close up flower images with the aid of a 10mm extension tube, and I was eager to give it a try photographing bees.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

I quite liked using the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 for this type of photography, although one must be comfortable getting one’s hands in very close to subject bees…about 6″ (15.24cm) away.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2, efov 86.4mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

The sharpness of this lens is also very apparent in the images and I will be using this lens for close-up photography on a regular basis in the future.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

I ended my bee photography test with the 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom. I kept the 10mm extension tube in place and shot the 10-30mm at the long end of the zoom so I could compare image quality against the 32mm f/1.2.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom and ended up being pleasantly surprised. The lens proved to be a competent performer when using a 10mm extension tube.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-800, 10mm extension tube

As with the 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 your hands will be in very close to your subject bees when using this lens. This did not prove to be an issue for me at all with bees. I’m not sure I’d be as comfortable using the 10-30mm PD or 32mm f/1.2 prime when photographing more aggressive insects like wasps.

Overall I really enjoyed doing this bee photography test. If you want to extend the shooting capability of your interchangeable lens camera kit, adding some extension tubes for close-up photography can be a solid investment as they can be used with a range of different lenses.

Technical Note:
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held in available light. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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12 thoughts on “Nikon 1 V3 Bee Photography”

  1. Hi Tom, thank you so much for your never ending insight on the 1 system. Hopefully Nikon is paying you a premium for your work because frankly, you are the main guy keeping this system alive!

    Maybe you can help me concerning lens selection: I want to trim down my system leaving only the keepers in my bag so to speak. At the moment, I have the 6.7-13, the 18.5, the 32mm (my favourite by far), the 10-30 PD zoom (the newer, small one) and the 30-110. I think about selling the 10-30, the 18.5 and the 30-110 and getting the 70-300 instead. This would leave me with the three premium and most inspiring lenses: 6.7-13, 32 mm and 70-300. Am I limiting myself too much with this move? Frankly, at the moment I use the 32mm and the 6.7-13 almost exclusively. The 18.5 is very nice but not as good as the 32mm. I love the 30-110 but I cannot imagine using it much after getting the 70-300. The 10-30…well, I always find it creates mediocre images and I can still get good money for it at the moment.

    By the way, I use a V1 (mainly for portraits and tele work) and a J5 for landscapes. I am still intrigued by the V3 with grip and EVF though.

    Sorry for bothering you with my story. Thanks for any help!

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Max,

      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment – it is never a ‘bother’ to hear from a reader! I always enjoy reading about the experiences of other Nikon 1 owners.

      The lenses that a photographer uses really comes down to personal choice and the subject matter that they prefer to shoot. The only Nikon 1 lenses that I very seldom use are the various 10-30mm kit zooms that are typically paired with Nikon 1 bodies at purchase. Instead I use the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 since I love the flexibility of this focal length range.

      Before selling off some of your lenses, especially the 30-110mm it may be a good idea to do an audit of your images over time to see at what focal lengths you typically shoot when using the zoom lenses you own. If you sold your 30-110mm, 10-30mm and 18.5mm lenses you’d end up with a focal length gap from 30mm to 70mm in your kit. Based on the lenses you plan on keeping this would be the equivalent of 86mm to 189mm in full frame terms. This is a pretty large gap and whether you would be limiting your kit too much is something only you could answer. For me, it would be a real problem. I would also really miss having the 30-110mm for close-up photography work when using extension tubes. I own two copies of the 30-110mm as it is a critical part of my kit. Again, it may not be for you.

      You certainly could use the 70-300mm with extension tubes. Personally I would find only using this lens with extension tubes limiting for my specific needs due to the difference in minimum focusing distance when compared to the 30-110mm…but that’s just me. It may not be an issue for you.

      Sorry that I could not be more definitive, but lens choice is really an intensely personal matter.


      1. Thanks for your help, Tom! You are right: That is a huge focal length gap and probably the reason why I still have all those lenses…You know what: The only one that just doesn`t do it for me is the kit lens. I will probably just sell off that one and keep the rest.

        Concerning the 70-300: I guess it`s a must have for this system, right? Looking at your pictures, I think it is!

        Best regards from Munich,

        1. Hi Max,
          The 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm is one of those lenses that causes some people to buy into the Nikon 1 system. If you need the reach this is a fantastic lens. If you’re planning to photograph birds in flight using a Nikon 1 camera with an EVF would be preferred by most folks.

    1. Hi Jack,
      There were a number of images that I took using the EVF on the V3. I guess the biggest reason was just to try out the V3 to experience more of the camera’s capability.

  2. Hi Tom,

    Once again, exquisite macros this time of bees and flowers. You’re really a great champion of the Nikon 1 series coupled with macro extension tubes. You’re right about the way to approach ’em bees — slow, no sudden movements. I used to dread them myself as I have severe allergic reactions to a lot of things and I don’t want to find out if that include bee stings. But a talk with a kind apiarist convinced me it can be done safely, in fact, as the only macro lens I have is a Nikkor 60mm, I do my bee macros with it 😀


  3. You’re a braver man than I, Thomas Stirr. I would not like to get closer than 6 feet, would feel better at 6 yards, and would only feel safe at 6 KM. Bees, wasps, hornets, etc. have a policy of attacking me whenever they see me. Great pics, by the way.

    1. Thanks William! Wasps and hornets are more aggressive and I wouldn’t risk using the 32mm f/1.2 or a 10-30mm with them. For the most part bees up here tend to be more docile. I do keep my motions very slow and measured photographing them, and I try to stay on the peripheral and wait for the bees to move into a pre-selected position whenever possible.

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